On Wednesday, 13 June 2018, Palestinian President’s Advisor for Governorates Affairs issued a circular to all the governorates, prohibiting hereunder to grant permits for holding demonstrations during the Eid Days. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns this circular and considers it an assault on the rule of law, paving the way for a dangerous precedent that would undermine the freedom of peaceful assembly, which is almost non-existent in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
According to PCHR’s follow up, the circular states “for facilitating citizens’ normal life”, and this is an unfair claim to reality. The truth is the circular came after two demonstrations were held in Ramallah to protest against the punitive measures taken by the Palestinian Government against the Gaza Strip. This Truth reveals the political motives for this unjust decision that aims at absenting and silencing the opposition.
This circular has also dealt with the right to peaceful assembly as a grant by the public authority, stating that “No permits for demonstrations or assemblies will be given out.” This also violates the Public Meetings Law No. 12 of 1998 which emphasizes in Article 3 that the competent authorities shall be notified before the peaceful assemblies are held; Thus, the organizers are not required to obtain a permit from the public authorities.
It should be mentioned that PCHR has monitored hundreds of cases where the right to peaceful assembly was violated since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority (PA), including banning and suppressing peaceful assemblies. Those violations, which have significantly increased since the Palestinian division in 2007, included assembly in public, private and enclosed places in a clear violation of the Basic Law, which provides that:
“Palestinians shall have the right to participate in political life, both individually and in groups. They shall have the following rights in particular to conduct private meetings without the presence of police members, and to conduct public meetings, gatherings and processions, within the limits of the law.”
PCHR hereby condemns this illegal circular and calls for immediately abolishing it as it assaults the rule of law and right to peaceful assembly.
PCHR calls upon the competent authorities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to respect civilians’ right to peaceful assembly and stop requiring permits for practicing this right.